MFF deal shows ‘no match’ between ambitions and budget – EU farmers

The brokering of a deal on the 2021-2027 EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Next Generation EU recovery instrument has been welcomed by European young farmers’ association CEJA.

However, while the deal provides certainty for the continuity of EU programmes and recovery capacity to tackle the Covid-19 effects, it also shows “limited ambition on the agricultural front”, the organisation says.

Such limited ambition “risks to undermine young farmers’ capacity to invest into their future and the future of their sector, although essential to the fulfillment of EU objectives”.

CEJA welcomes the efforts shown by EU heads of states in reaching a deal after four days of negotiations.

The organisation also highlighted the value of the establishment of an EU Recovery Plan, which it says “constitutes an unprecedented instrument with the potential to truly tackle the repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis”.

However, despite an acknowledgement of the importance of agriculture over the last month, EU support has not been up to the challenges the sector is facing.

The farm organisation claimed that the “lack of ambition on backing EU farmers is visible through the cuts into the CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] in comparison to the 2014-2020 programming period”.

This is also seen in the recovery capacity in the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) which was downgraded to €7.5 billion, compared to the €15 billion in the commission’s proposal, it was noted.

Additionally, limited support to agriculture has also been shown by the severe decrease in the financial allocation to the Horizon Europe recovery budget and Just Transition Fund, two instruments which are key to the realisation of the Green Deal objectives.

This is why the group says it does not believe agriculture is provided with the appropriate budgetary capacity to ensure its economic and social viability while, at the same time, fulfilling the environmental and climate objectives of the EU.

CEJA president Jannes Maes commented, stating:

“EU leaders in all institutions have to reflect on the discrepancies in their ambitions.

“Political courage isn’t just about giving big speeches or designing idealistic strategies; it should focus on outlining and funding a pathway of investment, innovation and acknowledgement to reach its ambitions.

As young farmers we don’t want to give up on our ambition to build a more resilient agriculture sector; we now expect to see everything put to work in order to maximise the ability of rural areas and the agricultural sector to access additional budget streams.

“Reflecting on the ability EU leaders have recently shown in finding a new common response to the current crisis, young farmers across Europe believe in the necessity to develop a stronger EU approach in the future, not only to tackle the effects of Covid-19, but also the wide range of challenges our community and the common market are facing such as geopolitical and economic instability, climate change and inclusion of next generations,” Maes concluded.